Ferraro Discusses Cadbury with Hershey, PE Firms

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian confectioner Ferrero has met with private equity firms as well as Hershey Co (HSY.N) to discuss a possible bid for Britain’s Cadbury Plc (CBRY.L), Il Sole 24 Ore daily reported on Saturday.

The coming weeks will determine whether the family-held company will make an offer for the British confectionery maker rivalling a hostile 10 billion pound ($15.9 billion) bid from U.S. food group Kraft Foods Inc (KFT.N), the newspaper said.

Ferrero has met in recent weeks with private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co KKR.UL and Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) to discuss Cadbury, Il Sole 24 Ore said, citing financial sources.

Ferrero also has talked over an offer in recent weeks with Hershey, with the goal an alliance that could offset Kraft’s bid, the paper said.

A Ferrero spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The company said on Dec. 27 nothing had changed in its position that it was in the preliminary stages of evaluating options on Cadbury.

Britain’s Takeover Panel gave Cadbury three extra days this week to publish 2009 results that could become a key plank in its defence against Kraft’s hostile bid.

Cadbury said on Dec. 14 that Hershey and Ferrero had both indicated they were also contemplating bids.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Ron Askew)

($1=.6289 Pound)